Storm at the Wheelwright Museum

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Up the narrow, foothill road
we hear thunder and see tall clouds
churning the hot desert sky,
as lightning in gleaming metal spears
thrust from slate-grey nimbus
into the bleeding body of earth.

But our road is still dry,
the rain falling
in tall curtains
between sharp shafts
of bright sunlight.

So we drive higher
to the museum at the top,
to see the soul
of a murdered nation.

We park on the gravel
when, at last, the sky breaks,
and running for the door, laughing
in the unexpected warmth of pounding rain,
we fly into the hogan,
safe from the storm,
and still breathless,
we walk through dim galleries,
gazing at Navajo carpets,
their patterns whispering tales of
life and love and loss.

Urgent hale beats the roof,
drums, like wild hearts, urging war,
and thunder responds
with volley of angry cannon,
when sudden darkness
swallows us
power shifting
to the avenging storm,

and, bat-blind, we drift,
touching walls
reaching for any door,
because all art is utterly useless now,
all beauty unknowable
in this uterine cave

where all we can hope
is to find our way out
and be born again
into the sodden world.

(13 May 2011)

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2 thoughts on “Storm at the Wheelwright Museum

  1. You’re writing about where Ethel and I live, Steven! The rugs, a hogan
    he rain falling
    in tall curtains
    between sharp shafts
    of sunlight.
    while you are still dry.
    But then the wonderful, wonderful ending where the lights in the museum, the past, go out, and you are forced to fumble in the darkness, trying to find a door to go back out into the sodden world.
    This is as good as poetry gets. The imagery is not only dramatic, as Betty says, but it also true. Only someone who has been in the high desert country knows just how specific and true it is. You are a true poet, Steven. A true poet. Tom and Ethel

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